Going through childbirth is a unique adventure. It very rarely happens exactly as you read in text books. Every individual's childbirth experience is unique and it is very difficult to exactly predict how your delivery will progress.
Childbirth is divided into three stages - labour, delivery of baby and delivery of placenta. The whole process of child birth may last for around 14 hours for first time mothers and around eight hours for others.
The pregnant woman generally makes the initial decision on start of labour. She does this based on the intensity, frequency and regularity of contractions, a bloody show or the rupture of membranes. This is checked and confirmed by the hospital care givers. Once labour has started, there will be a progressive increase in the frequency of uterine contractions and increase in the dilation of the cervix leading to the birth of the baby.
Labour is divided into three phases - Early, Active and Transitional. You will have periodic internal examinations during labour to check on your cervical dilation. This confirms the progress of delivery. If labour does not appear to be progressing normally, your doctor may administer oxytocin to make the labour go on track.
In some cases you may not realise that your labour has started until the second or third phase has begun. This is because for a few mothers, contractions in the first phase are sometimes mild or painless.
You may not need assistance from hospital staff during the first phase of labour.
They will mostly be involved from the second phase of labour till the end of child birth.